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May 29, 2018

Early-stage businesses advance with some coaching help from Gorham Savings

About Gorham Savings and its Forward with Funding program

Gorham Savings Bank plans to run the invitation-only Forward with Funding program, which is free for participants, again this October and each fall thereafter. Headquartered in Gorham, since its founding in 1868, Gorham Savings Bank is a depositor-owned community bank delivering a full suite of financial services tailored to the needs of southern Maine's businesses and consumers. It has 12 branches and growing network of ATMs, ITMs and mobile services and is a member of the FDIC. For more information on how to qualify for the Forward with Funding program, which has limited availability, contact Gorham Savings Bank or go to its online page here.

Fifteen small businesses, including North Spore Mushroom Co., Two Fat Cats Bakery and Tito Masonry & Construction recently participated in a new five-part workshop series offered by Gorham Savings Bank to help southern Maine entrepreneurs better understand their businesses' financials.

The program, called Forward with Funding, was created by Gorham Savings Bank along with seasoned business coaches Michelle Neujahr and Gerry Brown, who also led the workshops.

It's designed to demystify the business loan process for entrepreneurs who may have limited experience on the financial side of running their business. Additionally, In five, two-and-a-half-hour evening workshop sessions, the program shows owners how to confidently present their business plans, financial projections and personal financial information.

"Without the benefit of an in-house financial manager, many banking and finance questions can go unanswered at small businesses," said Gorham Savings Bank President Steve deCastro. "We created 'Forward with Funding' as an environment for small business owners to get those questions answered, learn about financial planning and share experiences about the ups and downs of running a business. When business owners better understand how all these pieces fit together, the odds for success increase remarkably."

Participants had the opportunity to talk about their plans and concerns in a no-pressure, educational context with members of Gorham Savings Bank's lending team who attended various sessions.

"All our burning banking and finance questions were answered," said Stacy Begin, owner of Two Fat Cats.

"Knowing when to grow your business is, in many respects, as important as knowing how to grow your business" said business coach Michelle Neujahr. "Forward with Funding covers these two ends of the spectrum and the important things in between. And it's always gratifying to see that ah hah look on the face of an entrepreneur."

While the content of the program was primarily financial, Eliah Thanhauser, co-founder of North Spore, said he also found it helpful on a higher strategic level.

"The program helped me identify what I need to know about my business to plan for growth and to make strategic decisions," he said. "Gorham Savings Bank very generously provided the learning environment needed to strategically plan for North Spore's businesses growth. And having insights from bankers, financial professionals and business consultants was very valuable."

Many entrepreneurs struggle to find time to work on their business and not just in their business. But Moravia "Tito" Drice of Tito Masonry & Construction said his biggest takeaway was learning how much more he could get done with a relatively small time commitment to planning activities. "Just spending a couple of hours a week on my numbers, business plan, HR and marketing [can] go a long way," he said.

Stacy Begin of Two Fat Cats said the workshops gave her the time and support to step back and work productively on her long-term business goals.

"Finding the time, discipline and environment to really focus on the future of your business can seem almost impossible without concentrated support from outside the daily grind," she said. "Forward with Funding provided a supportive atmosphere, and perhaps most valuable of all, support from fellow participants. We became cheerleaders and sounding boards for each other."

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